Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark- Rabindranath Tagore
Whenever the thought of Kabiguru crosses my mind, a shade of white illuminates my thoughts, a white which is as pure as the pearl lying in its shell waiting to be uncovered in an unknown sea. It is a well-known fact that white is the colour that encapsulates all other colours in its arms and thus it is a colour that symbolises Rabindranath for me. A poet, an artist, a lyricist and a playwriter. The list would go on if begun, with an innumerable contribution to the world of literature, philosophy and art, Rabindranath has found his abode in the fond memory of the human soul.
Throughout his lifetime, Rabindranath or Gurudev has given the world more reasons to smile, to retrospect and feel rejuvenated again. His masterpieces have reflected the beauty that resides in the very nature and has left thousands of people to sway in the tunes of his songs like a daffodil that blooms with the wind on a winter evening. Even though his stories held the element of versatility and ranged from human emotions, comedy, horror and even politics, inequalities and injustice, his poems and songs have been the echo of optimism and faith. In the majority of his songs he has held the hand of nature, spirituality and love and has given humankind one more chance to confront their emotional self. A man of many honours and accolades, Rabindranath has shown the ray of light through his mesmerising words throughout his lifetime.
“Byartho praner abarjona puriye phele agun jwalo,
ekla raater ondhokaare ami chai pother alo…”
(I shall make a bonfire of all the dross of soul’s despair.
All I want in my lonely dark night is a path of radiance; a flame of light.)
A man who has been the bearer of hope and faith was also the man who found himself desolated and alone during various years of his life. Having a lonely childhood with the early trauma of losing his mother, Rabindranath found his emotions flow through the tip of his pen and the end of his brush. What added to his personal struggles and agony was losing his much-beloved sister-in-law Kadambari Devi, who loved Gurudev dearly. To relieve the extreme sorrow, Kabiguru held the hand of his dear friend and wrote innumerable poems in the memory of Kadambari Devi. Even through the pain, the poet could find hope and peace inside him which he unveiled through every song he wrong and poem he crafted.
“Jibono Moroner Sheemana Chadaye…Bondhu he aamaar royecho daaraye…”
(Beyond the boundaries of life and death, o my friend (you are) standing there..)
His plight, his miseries, his agonies and sufferings, all of them found one gateway- the door of creativity that every inch of his cell possessed. Years later in his life, he found himself in a similar melancholy when he lost his wife Mrinalini Devi on 23 November 1902. Twenty-two years later on the same date, sitting on a ship he wrote the poem
“tomar ankhir alo tomar porosh nai ar, kintu ki poroshmoni antore rekhe gecho amar…”
(The light from your eyes, you have no more, yet the eternal stone of your love resides in me forever…)
The astonishing fact remained, a wounded man in his moments of despair, still found his peace in looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. Even though he lost his daughter Renuka in 1903, his father in 1905 and his most beloved son Shamidranath, whose death shook every inch of Gurudev, yet he kept his belief in the spiritual world and accepted the inevitability of death. This was the time he wrote the lines
“Bipade more roksha karo e nohe mor praarthana Bipade aami naa jeno kori bhoy”
(It is not my prayer that you save me from all perils, I pray that I should not fear when faced with odds)
When his personal distress crowded one half of his life, the lack of appreciation, hostile remarks and sense of futility shadowed the other half. In 1914, Rabindranath wrote to his son Rathindranath and also to his dear friend C F Andrews that he is suffering from depression. He accepted that he is consumed with an immense longing to end his life. In 1915 he accepted that he is near a breakdown and also wrote that he is feeling that his life has been worthless.
From this deep trench that surrounded Rabindranath with darkness, he found the love for life crawl back in him. His acceptance of his mental state, along with his belief in spirituality became the weapons that helped him fight the disease. His letters to his son and his friend without any shame were the first steps towards healing. He recognised his state by reading about mental conditions from Materia Medica and embraced his feelings thereafter. He spent most of his time near the river Padma and later wrote that he enjoyed the solitude and peace that he felt in the lap of nature. Sitting on the banks of the river, nature helped him wash away all the aches and grief. His belief in Brahma or almighty was yet another reason that consistently gave him hope. He was not a man of idol worship but a man who worshipped the creator and believed in his work. But, along with acceptance and spirituality, his creative outlet was also the rope that pulled him out of the trench. He let out every inch of sadness through poems, songs, stories and paintings. His work of art became the portrayal of his deepest emotions. Yet, though all his marvellous work were an expression of his suffering, they were also a representation of his hopeful philosophy.
“Jogote anondo jojne amar nimontron, dhonyo holo dhonyo holo manob jeebon…”
(In the world’s joyous ceremonies I too was invited, thank you my mortal life is delighted)
The life of Kabiguru still remains an inspiration to every individual today who is fighting against an epidemic that no soul was ever prepared for. His life and his philosophy is the anthem that calls to every human and tells them to keep hope, to find peace in solitude, to accept the anguish and embrace the distress, and to finally find a home in the ship of creativity, to let out emotions through poems, through art, through writing, through any and every way that makes the face curve into a small smile, that helps the heart seek some respite, that aids this tormented mind to find its happy place in the confines of four walls. To keep going because like all the inevitable miseries, the moments of joy are inevitable as well and finally, to keep hope for a better tomorrow.
Srijoni Hore is a content writer who has completed her graduation in Philosophy. She is extremely passionate about topics of feminism, human rights and egalitarianism. You can reach her- email@example.com
Roy, Abhik. “Tagore’s Triumph over depression.” The Statesman. 5 June 2016. https://www.thestatesman.com/opinion/tagore-s-triumph-over-depression-146670.html
Mitra, Saheli. “What did Tagore Write After his Son Died in Cholera Epidemic.” Get Bengal. 22 March 2020. https://www.getbengal.com/details/what-did-tagore-write-after-his-dear-son-died-in-a-cholera-epidemic
“There Must be Pain, There Must be Death.” Ananda Bazaar Patrika.6 August 2016. https://www.anandabazar.com/patrika/there-must-be-a-pain-there-must-be-a-death-1.450209
“Chatrider Niye Gaan Korlen Rabindranath.” Ajkal.in. https://www.aajkaal.in/news/robibasar/rabibasor-0xgf